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School Paste in the 1980s: Sticky Memories

School paste is a relic of the past. This thick, goopy substance was used in schools across America in the 1980s to help students with their schoolwork. It’s gummy, it smells like chemicals and children love to eat it! Let’s take a quick look back at this sticky memory from our childhoods…

What Was School Paste Made Out Of?

Most school pastes contained chalk, flour and other ingredients that were mixed together to form a paste. Chalk was the main ingredient since it absorbs moisture from your fingers so you can write on dry paper without having wet smears all over the page. The last ingredient in many of these pastes is something sweet or sugar like honey – this tricks your body into thinking it’s getting something good to eat so you don’t feel as guilty about eating the school paste!

(Although you really shouldn’t eat it, anyway.)

What Was School Paste Used For?

Originally, school pastes were used for a variety of purposes. One use was to cover maps or graphs in science classrooms – long before there were white boards and technology, teachers would put a thin layer of school paste on the map or graph and then students would use markers to write a caption.

Another purpose was as an adhesive for paper items that needed to be glued together such as stamps, stickers, construction paper – you name it! It could also be used in art class for collage projects

What Did School Paste Smell Like?

The school paste had an acrylic smell to it that still sticks with me today! I distinctly remember the teacher would put one or two drops of food coloring in the container before adding water and mixing it all together. And let’s not forget that this stuff was really goopy!

What Did School Paste Look Like?

The school paste was a translucent and off-white color. I don’t remember it being particularly thick, but after you added water to the container of glue, it seemed like there were so many chunks in there!

Do Kids Eat It?

I’ve read that kids used to eat it, but I never have and I don’t recommend it for you! It’s not edible because of the chemicals in school paste (such as glycerine) so be sure to brush your teeth after school!

Kids would eat school paste if they got their hands on some. The lesson learned here is to never leave your supplies unattended!

If you were caught eating the stuff, you received a stern warning, and though you usually didn’t die, you did get sent to the school nurse for a stomach pump.

How Did School Paste Taste?

It tasted like whatever was in your mouth last — plus, of course, the concoction of white, pasty chemicals that made up school paste. One thing’s for sure, it didn’t taste good!

Who Made School Paste?

The school janitor was in charge of making the stuff from a recipe that usually called for sugar and flour.

OK, But What Companies Made School Paste?

Most school paste was made by a company called Borden, parent company of Elmer’s glue and other fine sticky products.

What Replaced School Paste?

In the 1990s, school paste was replaced with a less-sticky adhesive called liquid glue.

(Like school paste? Then you might like our article Elementary School Textbooks, click here.)

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